Primary Care = Complete Care

Prevention & Maintenance of Chronic Diseases

Sore throats, fevers, rashes: When something unusual pops up unexpectedly, most people think of their primary care provider as the go-to when they’re temporarily not feeling well. 

But not everyone realizes that primary care can also be not only their first stop when they need help, but a place to develop a long-term relationship for managing chronic diseases.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases, which are also commonly called chronic conditions, are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. 

In 2020, the CDC reported that almost 30% of the country’s adult population had multiple chronic conditions; hypertension (high blood pressure) is the most common chronic disease that affects Americans. 

In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, Langdon Prairie Health’s certified Family Nurse Practitioners Liz Sillers and Courtney Short regularly work with patients who experience chronic diseases in order to help manage those conditions better, including helping patients 

  • regardless of age or health condition 
  • consider the impact of health on your family 
  • navigate the health care system 
  • understand social causes of health 
  • use data and technology to coordinate services and enhance care 

The most common diseases in my practice are hypertension, prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, obesity, heart disease, depression and generalized anxiety disorder,” said Sillers, who also explained that she has a particular interest in Type 2 diabetes. 

According to Sillers, people at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes include those who are: 45 or older, overweight or obese, active less than three times a week or have a close relative with the chronic condition. 

Whether patients have concerns about Type 2 diabetes or any other chronic disease, Sillers emphasizes creating a sustained relationship with a trusted provider as a key to good disease management – and part of that is making sure that patients feel comfortable talking to her. 

"I definitely want my patients to feel free to ask questions, no matter how trivial they may seem,” said Sillers. If you aren’t sure, ask. We want patients to feel as if they’re receiving a very personalized approach at LPH; we believe that strong relationships are the foundation that enable patients to live happy, healthier lives.  

Among Sillers other top tips for fostering a relationship with a provider who helps manage a chronic disease:  

  • Be honest about your symptoms and habits 
  • Use your provider as your first contact for health concerns 
  • Know your medications  
  • Bring medications to each appointment, including all supplements and herbals 

We like to think the computer has everything perfectly accurate, but one wrong click on our end and the information is not right, so its a good practice to bring medications in,” said Sillers. I also think using MyChart is a good idea; that way patients have access to their provider and all their healthcare information right in one place. 

Sillers also points out that preventative care is an essential aspect to managing chronic conditions and encourages patients to keep up with appropriate screenings, which are a reliable tool to help detect health concerns early on.  

“Screenings are so critical to long-term good health because they help identify issues early so they can be treated now and prevented from turning into bigger health issues down the road,” explained Sillers.  

LPH offers a wide variety of preventative screening services including: 

  • Blood pressure monitoring 
  • Bone density testing 
  • Diabetes management 
  • Lab testing 
  • Mammography 
  • Sports physicals 
  • Wellness check-ups 

Following current screening guidelines is important to catch diseases earlier in the disease process; fasting blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, mammograms, PSA tests and pap smears are important screening tools,” said Sillers.  

Adults should have a good idea where their blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI are at. Various organizations set screening guidelines that healthcare providers follow, and your provider can help you stay on top of which screenings are appropriate for your age and current health situation.” 

The CDC cites four key actions that people can take to help avoid developing a chronic disease: 1) avoid smoking – and if you currently smoke, seek help to quit; 2) make healthy decisions when it comes to eating; 3) keep – or start – moving; be active and exercise on a regular basis; and 4) limit alcohol consumption. 

The foundations of chronic disease prevention are a healthy diet, regular exercise aiming for 150 minutes per week of moderate intensityrestorative sleep, a social network, avoiding smoking and binge drinking. Ideally, these healthy foundations start in childhood but I believe adults have the ability to change behavior too, said Sillers.  

“For those who are looking for new ways to exercise, I recommend our local facility, the Langdon Activity Center. In the summer months, we also have a really well-maintained track to walk on. I also recommend consulting with our excellent dietician and diabetic educator who teach patients about nutrition and diabetes at LPH. 

Keeping stress in check is another facet of coping with a chronic condition, and Sillers encourages area residents to make use of the variety of resources available to them for help with chronic conditions, whether its using facilities for exercise or developing a close relationship with a provider who is there to help.  

“Patient education is a big part of what we do in primary care,” she said. “We definitely want people to think of us as more than the place you go when you feel sick – we want LPH patients to think of us as partners in their best health. Primary care includes health promotion, disease prevention, health maintenance, counseling and patient education not just diagnosis and treatment.”  

Complete Primary Care at LPH 

At LPH, you’ll find primary care providers who deliver comprehensive health care for people of all ages and offer preventive care such as routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunizations, screenings and personalized assistance on maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your whole family.  

Another important thing to remember is that LPH want to keep your care convenient: We offer telemedicine services so you don’t have to travel far for your appointments. 

Whether you are looking for assistance managing your chronic condition or need a routine check-up, LHP’s primary care staff can help with concerns such as: 

  • Annual exams 
  • Cholesterol 
  • Hypertension 
  • Depression screenings 
  • Diabetes 
  • Immunizations (Walhalla Clinic only) 
  • Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (AWV) 
  • Medication management 
  • Preventive care services 
  • Sports physicals 
  • Weight management 
  • Well-child visits 
  • Women’s health 
  • Smoking cessation 

Looking for more information about how your primary care providers can help you or your loved ones manage a chronic disease? Call 701-256-6100 for more informationWe look forward to caring for you and your family!